One must imagine that if you were a person that felt intimidated by any type of math beyond arithmetic, that if you had anxiety looking at a page of calculation that had more letters than numbers on it, that the world would be much more freeing than it actually was. The person who can’t appreciate the % sign, the relationship between a circle’s radius and circumference and geometric rates of change is playing the whole world by ear, getting by on rules of thumb. Everything is immediate; uncertainty is replaced with comforting sham certainty. We see this more and more today – this tacking back away from numbers. Using numbers to obfuscate or simply making numbers subservient accomplices in what we’ve made up our minds about already.
This is a sad state. Mathematics is like philosophy – a way of interpreting the world. But maths also has the benefit of quantifying the world as it qualifies it. The shape of things comes to be seen; equations map out the relationships between things, between controls and variables. One relationship after another comes to be appreciated right down to the fundamental relationships between subatomic particles.
If it seems daunting its because it is. It’s supposed to be: the universe is daunting and gaining the power to understand it should be as well. But I’m getting away from myself. Because really I just want to illustrate the power of a number to change perspective.
20.5. If it were working days in a month, it would be expected. If it were vertical jump in inches it could be impressive. But what if it were the amount of years you had left to live? What would that number immediately do to even the person that resents numbers and math the most? 20.5 weeks? 20.5 hours?
Fortunately 20.5 does not signify this to me (at least, not to my knowledge). But it is no less able to change my life. 20.5 is my body fat percentage as determined by an InBody 570 Body Composition test on Tuesday February 28.
I know of the limits of induction currents in determining the accuracy of fat stores. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is having a number. A number to work with. A frame of reference to move away from. The number 205, which is my current weight, won’t do as well because it can go up with things I want, like muscle, as it goes down with things I can do without, like fat. But 20.5 is a standard. It is an island upon which I long stood. And now is time to push away from that island and make sure that its getting smaller as I move away.
This will take everpresence of mind, which we call zanshin in karate, and mindfulness which we call shoshin in karate. I will have to keep that number in the back of my mind and be mindful of what I put into my body, both from a nutritional and exercise standpoint. In 8 weeks I will stand on that machine again and see if the island has gotten any smaller. And if it hasn’t I’ll still have made progress. Because I’ll know what I shouldn’t be doing.
A new way of being ready – I’ve discovered a new way of being ready…One that never occurred to me before. Surprise, surprise – it depends on wantpower, awareness of self, and restraint. Time to go exploring…